Basketball: LeBron's Lakers start to take shape as big banner exits Cleveland


Another factor pundits considered behind James' move west was the opportunity to link up with a young roster, including 2017's number-two draft pick Lonzo Ball and Germany's Isaac Bonga, which could ensure he wouldn't have to carry the team like he did in Cleveland.

James will join a Lakers team which has missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons, the longest streak in franchise history.

The Lakers were already viewed as a heavy contender to sign James this offseason, and according to Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins, James and his agent and advisors had been speaking at length about his options.

The 32-year-old Howard, who still has to finalize his buyout with the Brooklyn Nets, infamously played for the Lakers during the 2012-13 season and served as the poster child for their underachieving, dysfunctional team that year. The Lakers face the challenge of beating the reigning champions, the Golden State Warriors.

Lakers fans are understandably excited to welcome James to their team and city.

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On Sunday night, James thanked the city of Cleveland for the four monumentual years that he played after his return from a short stint with the Miami Heat.

The relationship between the Spurs and the 2014 NBA Finals MVP has soured beyond fix and, after months of speculation, the 27-year-old has indicated he wants out of San Antonio.

"The one thing that I've always done is consider my family, understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age", James announced after the Cavaliers' June 8 loss.

Before Sunday's announcement regarding James, George had agreed to a multi-year contract with the Thunder and the likelihood of the Lakers landing Leonard in a trade from the Spurs appeared to be dwindling. Pairing Leonard with LeBron could force the Lakers to break up part of their young core.

Instead, James signed a four-year deal with the Lakers (with a reported opt-in for the fourth year). Those who don't pass muster can be set free next summer, when LA will have on their books only about $21 million for the four youngsters and Wagner, the waivable (and stretchable) $18 million on Luol Deng's contract and the $38 million they'll pay James.